Thursday, January 14, 2010

Alexandra National House

As most of you know "Alex Nat" at the top of Queens Drive, was demolished two years ago as part of a regeneration programme. However this was affected by the credit crunch and uncertainty in the property market, and the scheme stalled.

We have continued to search for alternative funding sources, and on Tuesday it was announced that we had been successful in bidding to a government scheme called Local Authority New Build 2.

The government are giving us £4.9 million in grant, with Hackney contributing the same.

This will allow us to build 67 brand new council homes.

Consultation on the planning application should begin before the end of the month, with an on site start by April if approved.

It was one or two such schemes approved on Tuesday, which means that together with two approved in Round 1 last autumn, Hackney has been by far the most successful authority in London.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year update

Kings Crescent Estate

Refurbishments are now largely complete in Kelshall, Therfield and Bramfield, and starting in Theobalds with other blocks programmed as previously advised. Tenants are getting new kitchens and bathrooms, together with rewiring and associated improvements. On some of the southern side, new balconies are to be constructed and flats extended. We are pushing to find funding to extend this, and to bring the CCTV system back into use.

We’re currently tendering for a specialist to develop a masterplan for the cleared areas of the estate. Their brief will include investigating sources of funding, as well as developing a future design based on what residents want.

One major issue was the occupation of the podium at Lemsford Court by squatters during 6th November. We successfully pressed for many actions to contain the damage they were doing, and for an eviction as soon as possible. This was successfully achieved and they were gone again by the start of December.

Many residents felt that a Lib Dem leaflet a week before the occupation was one of the things that attracted them to the block. They also got support from the Green Party’s parliamentary candidate.

The planning application for the refurbishment of the retained part of Lemsford went in in December. It provides for the “erection of a single storey front/side extension at ground floor level to provide a secure entrance, cycle store and lifts; installation of a new metal pitched roof; installation of new UPVC windows and doors; and a new glazing to walkways on the north elevation”.

Clissold Park

The refurbishment of the park takes major steps forward this month with the arrival of the temporary cafe which will serve park users until Clissold House reopens in early 2011. Further modular buildings in the bandstand area will provide WCs (complete with baby changing facilities), a rangers office and house the tennis club until the new tennis clubrooms at 3 Queen Elizabeth Walk are ready in summer 2010. Further information is available on -

Polling station for District D

I was asked by the Manor ETRA to again take up the issue of the location of the polling station for CD district, i.e. Myddleton Grange, St Johns Court and Amwell Court. I’m pleased to report it has now been relocated to the Amwell Court Estate Hall.

Portland Rise playground

I had previously bid for funding for new play equipment as part of a government pathfinder project. Initially this had been envisaged as a number of small features for pre-teens but following consultation with residents, a more traditional playground for all ages is now proposed between Nottingham and Balmoral Houses. Planning permission was applied for just before Xmas.

Council performance

The Audit Commission continues to recognise the improved performance across the council. Its draft organisational assessment for this year rates us 2nd best in London and 4th nationally at achieving efficiencies.

They said “Hackney Council continues to build on its good track record and delivers good outcomes for local people. Satisfaction with the way the council runs things continues to improve and is similar to the London average. 7 out of 10 people are satisfied with Hackney as a place to live. More than 62% say that they get fair treatment from local services. 4 in 10 say that they can influence local decisions, which is better than average.

Good improvements have been made in services that local people say matter most including adult social care, the environment, housing, improving leisure services and in reducing crime. This builds on improvements in previous years.

The Council is working well with other public services, voluntary organisations and businesses to improve the quality of life for local people. In partnership, the Council has helped local people to find jobs and has improved the area through regeneration.”

Stoke Newington Municipal Buildings

The successfully refurbished Town and Assembly Halls reopen on the 14th January with a 1940’s themed party.

Woodberry Down Estate

We are still seeking to complete the regeneration on an incremental basis, and in the meantime an interim repairs package has been agreed. We have been negotiating to ensure that residents from Spring Park Drive and from Peak and Petherton, are among the first to be moved into the new flats.

Building work on the Old School Site is progressing well with the cores of both Block F (33 homes for social rent) and Block G (84 for social rent) finished and the concrete structure being completed. Foundation piles for Block E (46 shared ownership) have been laid and the cores are going up. Construction of the new secondary school remains on schedule.

The section of the New River Walk from the Castle to the boundary of the old school site is to be relaid this January, with the rest to follow as part of the wider scheme.

Councillor Brian Bell